Friday, 2 May 2014

The Best Of 2003 - part 1

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

2003 was a big year for me. After two years as deputy editor of Smash Hits, I was promoted to editor when my predecessor departed. I'd never run a magazine before and soon discovered the joys of management (or mis-management, in some cases). Suddenly, it wasn't all just about listening to CDs and interviewing pop stars. Budgets, staffing issues, upper management... those were the things that now formed part of my day.

Maroon 5 hit the charts in 2003 - and Adam Levine hit the tattoo parlour not long after

But, as jobs go, I couldn't complain. Getting to decide who went on the front cover of the magazine was a fun, if somewhat nerve-racking, decision and I began to obsess over weekly sales figures. My first cover stars were Good Charlotte, while Eminem and Avril Lavigne were still massively popular with our readers. Interestingly, none of those three sure-fire magazine sellers have songs in my top 100 singles chart for 2003...

Number 100 "Sunlight" by DJ Sammy
Proving there was more to him than just cover versions of old '80s hits, the Spanish DJ and producer (real name: Samuel Bouriah) released this original track with his then-wife on vocals. She'd previously recorded with DJ Sammy as Carisma, but by "Sunlight", she was calling herself Loona. Her real name is the much less pop star-ready Marie-JosĂ© van der Kolk.

Number 99 "Destination" by DT8 featuring Roxanne Wilde
More dance pseudonyms now, with this track coming from British DJ and producer Darren Tate, who also released records as Jurgen Vries and had been part of Angelic. The song's a pretty standard pop/trance track, but, as we'll see when I get to my 2004 chart, it wasn't the only sound DT8 would have.

Number 98 "Heaven Is Closer (Feels Like Heaven)" by Dario G
DJ Sammy may have moved on from remakes, but the dance act behind 1997's "Sunchyme" (which sampled The Dream Academy's "Life In A Northern Town") continued to mine the '80s for inspiration. This track was a slightly renamed cover of the 1984 hit by Scottish band Fiction Factory and would be Dario G's final UK top 40 appearance.

Number 97 "Stand Back" by Linus Loves featuring Sam Obernik
Another update of an '80s track now from Scottish duo Linus Loves with vocals provided by the singer of Tim Deluxe's "It Just Won't Do" (which we saw on my top 100 for 2002). The original version of "Stand Back" was, of course, released by Stevie Nicks during her surprisingly poppy mid-'80s period.

Number 96 "Damaged" by Plummet
The fifth in our initial burst of dance tracks is another cover version - although I wasn't aware of that fact until just now. Turns out the trance track is a remake of a song by Christian singer Plumb, and the original version is actually rather lovely. Who knows if I'd have liked this quite as much if I'd ever heard the original.

Number 95 "Falling" by Candice Alley
Slowing the pace right down now is the debut single by the future Mrs Grant Hackett (and the future ex of the swimming champ). I remember the story that the head of Universal Music Australia was so taken by Candice's talent that he quit his job to manage her personally. In fact, I think I went to his swish house in Point Piper (which might just have been on the line if she'd been a flop) for a showcase by Candice, so it must have been a huge relief when this ballad became a big hit. Despite the good start, Candice wouldn't have another major Australian chart hit for four years, by which point she'd left Universal.

Number 94 "Being Nobody" by Richard vs Liberty X
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 93 "Invisible" by D-Side
Mentioned below

Number 92 "Harder To Breathe" by Maroon 5
Has it really been over a decade since Adam Levine and the other four first hit the scene with their brand of soulful pop/rock? I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Maroon 5 - or, rather, a love-bored by relationship (although that's not really a thing, is it?). In other words, I love some tracks by the band, including this debut single, while others (even big hits like "She Will Be Loved" and "Payphone") leave me disinterested.

Number 91 "I Must Not Chase The Boys" by Play
We saw this Swedish girl group in my top 100 for 2002 with "Us Against The World", and here they are again with another poptastic single which did approximately nothing on international charts. "I Must Not Chase The Boys" was the first single from Play's second album, Replay, which included cover versions of Billie's "Honey To The Bee", Liberty X's "Just A Little" and Atomic Kitten's "Whole Again", the latter of which was also released as a single to universal disinterest.

Number 90 "Mandy" by Westlife
Once upon a time, everything Westlife released went to number 1 in the UK, but by 2003, this Barry Manilow remake was the only one of their three singles from that year to reach the top. And so began the second phase of the Irish boy band's career in which original pop songs were eschewed in favour of increasingly bland cover versions.

Number 89 "What U Do 2 Me" by Boomkat
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 88 "Come On Over" by Kym Marsh
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 87 "Surrender (Your Love)" by Javine
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 86 "My Love Is Always" by Saffron Hill featuring Ben Onono
Here's another track with a link to "It Just Won't Do" - because Saffron Hill is another alias for Tim Liken (aka Tim Deluxe). Clearly, when it comes to dance artists, one alias is never enough. Singer Ben Onono was also one of the co-writers of "It Just Won't Do".

Number 85 "The Whirled You Live" by Etherfox
Some Australian dance music now - from duo Justin Shave and Antigone Foster, who just happened to be the sister of one of my Smash Hits colleagues. I always associate this song with Afro Medusa's "Pasilda" and while it seemed to be played everywhere in 2003, it didn't make an impact on the ARIA chart.

Number 84 "Breathe" by Blu Cantrell featuring Sean Paul
2001's "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops)" was her big hit in the US, while "Breathe" could only manage a number 70 peak there. Not so in the UK, where this lead single from the Bittersweet album topped the chart for four weeks. In Australia, both tracks hit the top 10 (her only chart appearances), making Blu the very definition of a two-hit wonder. Rapper Sean Paul became the go-to guy for guest appearances in 2003, also appearing on releases by BeyoncĂ© Knowles and Busta Rhymes.

Number 83 "Deepest Blue" by Deepest Blue
Comprised of singer Joel Edwards and multi-instrumentalist Matt Schwartz, British synthpop duo Deepest Blue got their name from this, their debut single. It was the first of two UK top 10 singles - and we'll see the second in my top 100 for 2004.

Number 82 "Love Doesn't Have To Hurt" by Atomic Kitten
The fourth (or fifth, if you count "Be With You" and "The Last Goodbye" as two releases) single from Atomic Kitten's second album, Feels So Good, "Love Doesn't Have To Hurt" is also the last single by the girl group I liked. Not for me were the limp "If You Come To Me" or the pedestrian cover of "Ladies Night", which both came out later in 2003 - and signalled the beginning of the end for the trio, with their chart peaks starting to slip. Around that time, the girls visited Australian on a promo trip and kept me waiting for my interview longer than any other pop act in my four years at Smash Hits.

Number 81 "Speechless" by D-Side
With Westlife becoming old and boring in 2003, there was room for a new, young Irish boy band on the scene. But, despite earning three UK top 10 hits - including this track and "Invisible" (number 93 on this list) - D-Side ultimately didn't become the world's top new pop combo. They did, however, become big in Japan, with two further studio albums released after debut Stronger Together.

Number 80 "U Make Me Wanna" by Blue
Like label-mates Atomic Kitten, Blue were up to the final single from their second album in 2003 - with "U Make Me Wanna" giving them a third UK top 5 hit from One Love. And, like the girl group who they'd years later join on the first season of The Big Reunion, Blue's third album, Guilty, released towards the end of 2003, didn't live up to their previous efforts. Looked like it was only a matter of time until things wound up for the four-piece boy band.

Number 79 "Fallen" by Mya
The big-ish hit from Mya's Moodring album was lead single "My Love Is Like... Wo", but this track, which wasn't even an official single in Australia, was my preference. Surprisingly, for an artist who'd been one of the world's hottest new singers only a couple of years earlier, the Moodring campaign was over before it really began, and "Fallen" was the final single from the album and Mya's last single for four years.

Number 78 "Turntable" by TLC
The death of Lisa 'Left-eye' Lopes in April 2002, who I'd interviewed not long before for the Australian release of her solo album, Supernova, was a shock to fans of TLC - and although it was nice for Lisa's final work with her two band-mates to be released as the 3D album, the music mostly wasn't in the same league as their '90s output. This Rodney Jerkins-produced track was a belated fourth single from 3D - and far and away my favourite song on the album.

Number 77 "Melt / Yeh, Yeh, Yeh" by Melanie C
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 76 "Predictable / Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" by Delta Goodrem
Mentioned in Part 4

In Part 2, the demise of former hit acts from the UK's Pop Idol and Popstars, the return of (and global domination by) OutKast and the pop culture moment that had the world buzzing.

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1 comment:

  1. Your comment about having to choose which artist should feature on the cover of Smash Hits just reminded me of of a year 9 English assignment where we had to create a magazine (about anything) in groups (or a pair in my case). I of course chose to do a music magazine... well, half of the magazine was that, the other half (completed by the other 'group' member) was about sport. I wasn't sure who to feature on the front cover of the pop section (really it was 2 separate magazines combined), but went with a poster of Toni Pearen from Smash Hits ('I Want You' had just been released), and scored my first A+. But that was it from me with magazines.

    2003 was a write-off year for me, both musically and otherwise, but I did like Moloko's 'Familiar Feeling'.